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Erin Brockovich (2000)
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Review Date: February 28, 2000
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Susannah Grant
Producers: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
Actors:
Julia Roberts
Albert Finney
Aaron Eckhart
Plot:
A sexy divorcee with no formal education and a lot of debt forces herself into a filing job at her lawyer's office, only to run into a lot of internal politics and lack of respect from her co-workers. It isn't until one day while filing away a case that she is intrigued by the details, and takes on the task of researching the case further on her own. After much hard work, determination, and personal sacrifice, she and the firm begin to put together one of the biggest direct-action lawsuits in U.S. history.
Critique:
Despite its slow moments, extended runtime and similarities in plot to A CIVIL ACTION, this film managed to make me like it based entirely on its excellent performances by its shining star Julia Roberts and her rough-gruff counterpart Albert Finney. I know it's still early in the year, but Albert should definitely be remembered come Oscar time next year in the category of supporting players. I don't remember the last time I truly enjoyed seeing this type of love-hate relationship work so well in a film, especially without it involving sex between the couple in question. The characters drawn here are quite opposite, save for the mutual respect that both obviously feel for one another, but to watch them go head-to-head on various issues is just great cinema. The story itself isn't extremely original or particularly engaging to behold (in spite of it being based on real events), the pacing sometimes slow, and the predictability factor pretty high on all counts. But what generally makes or breaks films of this type are their focus on character, character, character, and this film succeeds in radiating light through its stars.

Even Aaron Eckhart, the only other significant player in the film, comes through as the boyfriend standing by his strong female companion as she takes on, what seems like, the world. And even though this film was a little foreseeable, I did find it refreshing to finally soak in a movie that focused more on the achievements of a woman, rather than that of men. So if only for that reason, check it out and "watch them women, hear them roar!". Of course, some of the roaring is also being handled by the flock of mini-skirts and push-em-up bras that Julia's character dons during this picture, but it is not as much of a focus as the film's trailer makes it out to be (Them marketing folks is smart!). So does the movie present the viewer with a lot of conflict, obstacles or tension? Not really. I was barely ever anxious to see what would happen next and rarely felt as though things wouldn't work out for everyone involved, but then again, this film doesn't pretend to be a thriller. It's an interesting, small tale of a woman who never knew what she could be in life, until she actually went out and became it. It's pretty inspiring, it's got one of the most feel-good last scenes in a movie this year, and once again, features a couple of charming performances by two great actors at the top of their game.

If you love Julia Roberts, you will most likely enjoy this run-of-the-mill story, despite it running a little too long, and you will definitely come to further appreciate the broad talent of Mr. Albert Finney, who pulls off one of his finest performances in years. All in all, a decent "lawyer movie", which consciously avoids any long, boring courtroom scenes. Thank you for that, Mr. Soderbergh.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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